There is one more day at Masters Nationals before the pack up, and loading frenzy begins. Yesterday afternoon, when I arrived for my practice with the eight I'm rowing in today, the clanging of medals could be heard as I approached the Masters International tent. Masters International is the creation of Karin Constant, a take charge spitfire, who organizes women over the age of 50, so they can row together and keep the E,F,G, and H categories at national and international regattas alive and well. Karin is so organized and detail oriented, she makes getting older exciting. She also makes it possible for women in their 60's, 70's, and 80's to keep rowing. Not too many clubs are able to field team boats with an average age of 65 and over, but drawing from clubs across the country, Karin is able to piece together composite boats. Of course, life sometimes gets in the way, and the planning has to include the inevitable sudden medical issues, family emergencies, and transportation problems. Today, I will have the honor of rowing in the women's G eight. It's beyond inspiring to be in a boat with women as much as 30 years older than myself. They might not be tall, but they make up for it with grit, heart, and determination.
It's been a very competitive regatta, and up and coming programs such as Saratoga, Orlando, Masters Coaching, Riverfront Recapture, and Prince William are challenging the Saugatuck, CRI, Fairmount, Potomac, and Capital programs. While elite rowing may be the future and Olympic hopes of USRowing, masters rowing is most certainly the heart of rowing in the U.S. College rowers are realizing that they don't have to stop rowing just because they don't make a national team, or school ends. The world of masters rowing is available to them, mostly because the folks in their 50's and over, refused to stop rowing and racing. What used to be a small community of crazy people that woke up before 5am, has turned into a larger, more diverse, and equally dedicated group of twenty and thirty somethings.
I'm going to pop a couple of Aleve, and finish this regatta by rowing into what I hope will become my future. Time to start planning head race season.